Keeping us riveted: the art of tension building – Game of Thrones

***Spoiler Alert*** to Game of Throne fans. If you haven’t watched the Season 5 finale, but plan to, then you may want to wait on reading this post until afterward.


I’m sitting at my computer, still reeling from the Game of Thrones Season 5 finale from a few days ago, and even if I am mad as hell that they killed off one of only three characters that deserve a happy ending on that show, I have to say I totally understand why they did it– to keep us interested.

If you read all of the post mortem tweets, you can find all sorts of comments from enraged fans who insist they’re done with GoT. Most of us had finally recovered from Ned Stark’s death in season one.The Red Wedding scene, though still a sore subject, had almost been forgiven. But this…this was going too far.

You want to know what I think? I think those very same people–the one ones who proclaim the loudest that they are walking away from their noxious relationship with GoT–those people will be the first ones to set their DVRs to record Season 6 next March.

A good story teller knows how to keep us guessing. As soon as we’re getting comfortable with the status quo “KABAM” you get stabbed in the gut with a knife…or in Jon Snow’s case…several knives. Ugh, it still hurts just thinking about it.

Anyway back to post. Right. Comfortable is probably not what one feels when watching any episode of GoT, let alone this last extremely brutal, humiliating and graphic episode. Am I the only one who heard a bell ring, followed by the words “Shame, shame, shame!” over and over again as they fell asleep that night? None-the-less, unless you read the books, I bet money that you had no idea that those characters were going to end up like they did. Who in their right mind could guess all that?

That’s what makes the show (and the books) so successful. The tension is always palpable. You can really never know what fate lies waiting in the dark corners of Winterfell, or the frozen ground of Castle Black. It really is a great ride.

Here are a few articles from one of my favorite author bloggers about creating tension in your story:

I haven’t read the Game of Thrones series (it’s on my bucket list), but someone told me that they knew Jon Snow would get it at the end of this season. It was written right in the pages of the book, he said.

I applaud you George R. R. Martin, for knowing your art, and building just the right amount of tension to make me want to throw my remote control at the TV.



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